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visage led by a guide, and guided by a staff, seeing him now walking confidently alone out of his own inward light, and looking them cheerfully in the face, doubted whether this were he. The miraculous. cures of God work a sensible alteration in men, not more in their own apprehension than in the judgment of others. Thus in the redress of the spiritual blindness, the whole habit of the man is changed. Where before his face looked dull and earthly, now there is a sprightly cheerfulness in it, through the comfortable knowledge of God and heavenly things; whereas, before, his heart was set upon worldly things, now he uses them, but enjoys them not; and that use is because he must not, because he would : where, before, his fears and griefs were only for pains of body, or loss of estate or reputation, now they are only spent upon the displeasure of his God, and the peril of his soul. So as now the neighbours can say, “Is this the man?” others, “ It is like him, It is not he.”
The late blind man hears, and now sees himself questioned, and soon resolves the doubt, “ I am he.” 'He that now saw the light of the sun, would not hide the light of truth from others. It is an unthankful silence to smother the works of God in an affected secrecy. To make God a loser, by his bounty to us, were a shameful injustice. We ourselves abide not those spunges that suck up good turns unknown. O God, we are not worthy of our spiritual eye-sight, if we do not publish thy mercies on the house-top, and praise thee in the great congregation.
Man is naturally inquisitive: we search studiously into the secret works of nature, we pry into the reasons of the witty inventions of art; but if there be any thing that transcends art and nature, the more high and abstruse it is, the more busy we are to seek into it. This thirst after hidden, yea forbidden knowledge, did once cost us dear; but, where it is good, and lawful to know, inquiry is commendable ; as here in these Jews, “How were thine eyes opened ?" The first improvement of human reason is inquisition, the next is information and resolution; and if the meanest events pass us not without a question, how much less those that carry in them wonder and advantage.
He that was so ready to profess himself the subject of the cure, is no niggard of proclaiming the Author of it; “A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes,
and sent me to Siloam to wash, and now I see.” The blind man knew no more than he said, and he said what he
apprehended : “A man.” He heard Jesus speak, he felt his hand; as yet he could look no farther : upon his next meeting he saw God in this man. In matter of knowledge we must be content to creep ere we can go. As that other recovered blind man saw first men walk like trees, after like men; so no marvel if this man saw first this God only as man, after this man as God also. Onwards he thinks him a wonderful man, a mighty prophet. In vain shall we either expect a sudden perfection in the understanding of divine matters, or censure those that want it.
How did this man know what Jesus did? he was then stone-blind, what distinction could he yet make of persons, of actions ? True, but yet the blind man never wanted the assistance of others' eyes ; their relation bath assured him of the manner of his cure: besides the contribution of his other senses, his ear might perceive the spittle to fall, and bear the enjoined command; his feeling perceived the cold and moist clay upon his lids; all these conjoined, gave sufficient warrant thus to believe, thus to report. Our ear is our best guide to a full apprehension of the works of Christ. The works of God the Father, his creation and government, are best known by the eye: the works of God the Son, his redemption and mediation are best known by the ear. () Saviour, we cannot personally see what thou hast done here. What are the monuments of thine apostles and evangelists, but the relations of the blind man's guide, what and how thou hast wrought for us? On these we strongly rely, these we do no less confidently believe, than if our very eyes had been witnesses of what thou didst and sufferedst upon earth. There were no place for faith, if the ear were not worthy of as much credit as the eye,
How could the neighbours do less than ask, where he was that had done so strange a cure? I doubt yet with what mind, I fear not out of favour. Had they been but indifferent, they could not but have been full of silent wonder, and inclined to believe in so omnipotent an agent. Now, as prejudiced to Christ, and partial to the Pharisees, they bring the late blind man before those professed enemies unto Christ.
It is the preposterous religion of the vulgar sort to claw and adore those which have tyrannically usurped upon their souls, though with neglect, yea with contempt of God, in
his word, in his works. Even unjust authority will never want soothing up in whatsoever courses, though with disgrace and opposition to the truth. Base minds, where they find possession, never look after right.
Our Saviour had picked out the Sabbath for this cure. It is hard to find out any time wherein charity is unseasonable. As mercy is an excellent grace, so the works of it are fittest for the best day. We are all born blind, the font is our Siloam: no day can come amiss, but yet God's day is the properest for our washing and recovery.
This alone is quarrel enough to those scrupulous wranglers, that an act of mercy was done on that day wherein their envy was but seasonable.
I do not see the man beg any more when he once had his eyes; no burgher in Jerusalem was richer than he. I hear him stoutly defending that gracious Author of his cure against the cavils of the malicious Pharisees : I see him, as a resolute confessor, suffering excommunication for the name of Christ, and maintaining the innocence and honour of so blessed a benefactor: I hear him read a divinity lecture to them that sat in Moses's chair, and convincing them of blindness who punished him for seeing.
How cannot I but envy thee, O happy man, who, of a patient, provest an advocate for thy Saviour; whose gain of bodily sight made way for thy spiritual eyes ; who hast lost a synagogue, and hast found heaven; who, being abandoned of sinners, art received of the Lord of glory.
The Stubborn Devil ejected. How different, how contrary are our conditions here upon earth! while our Saviour is transfigured on the mount, his disciples are perplexed in the valley. Three of his choice followers were with him above, ravished with the miraculous proofs of his Godhead ; nine other were troubled with the business of a stubborn devil below.
Much people met to attend Christ, and there they will stay till be come down from Tabor. Their zeal and devotion brought them thither, their patient perseverance held them there. We are not worthy the name of his clients,
if we cannot painfully seek him, and submissively wait bis leisure.
He, that was now awhile retired into the mount to confer with his Father, and to receive the attendance of Moses and Elias, returns into the valley to the multitude. He was singled out awhile for prayer and contemplation, now he was joined with the multitude for their miraculous cure and heavenly instruction. We that are his spiritual agents, must be either preparing in the mount, or exercising in the valley; one while in the mount of meditation, in the valley of action; another, alone to study, in the assembly to preach : here is much variety, but all is work.
Moses, when he came down from the hill, heard music in the valley; Christ, when he came down from the hill, beard discord. The scribes, it seems, were setting hard upon the disciples : they saw Christ absent, nine of his train left in the valley, those they fly upon. As the devil, so his imps watch close for all advantages. No subtile enemy but will be sure to attempt that part where is likelihood of least defence, most weakness. When the spouse misses him whom her soul loveth, every watchman hath a buffet for her. O Saviour, if thou be never so little stept aside, we are sure to be assaulted with powerful temptations.
They, that durst say nothing to the Master, so soon as his back is turned, fall foul upon his weakest disciples. Even at the first hatching, the serpent was thus crafty to begin at the weaker vessel : experience and time hath not abated bis wit. If he still work upon “silly women laden with divers lusts," upon rude and ungrounded ignorants, it is no other than his old wont.
Our Saviour, upon the skirts of the hill, knew well what was done in the plain, and therefore hastes down to the rescue of his disciples. The clouds and vapours do not sooner scatter upon the sun's breaking forth, than these cavils vanish at the presence of Christ: instead of opposition, they are straight upon their knees; here are now no quarrels, but humble salutations, and if Christ's question did not force theirs, the scribes had found no tongue.
Doubtless, there were many eager patients in this throng; none made so much noise as the father of the demoniac. Belike upon this occasion it was that the scribes held contestation with the disciples. If they wrangled, he sues, and
that from his knees.". Whom will not need make both humble and eloquent? The case was woeful and accordingly expressed. A son is a dear name, but this was his only son. Were his grief ordinary, yet the sorrow were the less; but he is a fearful spectacle of judgment, for he is lunatic. Were this lunacy yet merely from a natural distemper, it were more tolerable; but this is aggravated by the possession of a cruel spirit, that handles him in' a most grievous 'manner. Yet were he but in the rank of other demoniacs, the discomfort were more easy; but lo, this spirit is worse than all other his fellows; others are usually dispossessed by the disciples, this is beyond their power. " I besought thy disciples to cast him out, but they could not : therefore, Lord, have thou mercy on
The despair of all other helps, sends us importunately to the God of power. Here was his refuge: the strong man had gotten possession, it was only the stronger than he that can eject him. O God, spiritual wickednesses have naturally seized upon our souls : all human helps are too weak; only thy mercy shall improve thy power to our deliverance.
What bowels could choose but yearn at the distress of this poor young man? Phrensy had taken bis brain: that disease was but health, in comparison of the tyrannical possession of that evil spirit, wherewith it was seconded. Out of bell there could not be a greater misery : his senses are either bereft, or else left to torment him; he is torn and racked so as he foams and gnashes, he pines and languishes, he is, cast soinetimes into the fire, sometimes into the water.
How that malicious tyrant rejoices in the mischief done to the creature of God! Had earth, had any thing more pernicious than fire and water, thither had he been thrown, though rather for torture than dispatch. It was too much favour to die at once. O God, with how deadly enemies hast thou matched us ! Abate thou their power, since their malice will not be abated.
How many think of this case with pity and horror, and, in the mean time, are insensible of their own fearfuller condition !
It is but oftentimes that the devil would cast this young man into a temporary fire: he would cast the sinner into an eternal fire, whose everlasting burnings have no intermis, sions. No fire comes amiss to him; the fire of affliction, the fire of lust, the fire of hell. O God, make us apprehensive of the danger of our sin, and secure from the fearful issue of sin.